BROKEN ARROW, Okla. - 11 year old Emily Anderson and her 17 year old sister Caitlin have been without their dad for the past 10 months while he has been stationed in Iraq. They thought he wasn't coming home for another two months. But on Tuesday they got a very special surprise while they were at school.
For the better part of a year, Shari Anderson and her five daughters have been without her soldier husband Jeremy, an helicopter mechanic with the 834th Aviation Unit.
Shari tells 2NEWS, "It has been tough. He missed our twin daughter's graduation and their prom. And moving the girls to college."
Shari and Jeremy initially told all their daughters he would be deployed for a year, in the hope of surprising them with an early return. But after the older three daughters found out he was coming home in time for Thanksgiving, they became part of the plot to surprise their younger sisters.
"You can't keep a secret in a house full girls", says oldest daughter Amber Riebel.
On Monday, Shari Anderson drove to Ft. Hood, Texas to pick up Jeremy. She then turned around and drove back to Tulsa in time to surprise Emily at Haskell Middle School before classes let out for Thanksgiving break.
The 11 year old was speechless as she embraced here father and told him, "I missed you."
With almost his entire family reunited, there was just one more stop for Sgt. Anderson to make, at Broken Arrow High School to surprise his daughter Caitlin.
2NEWS cameras were rolling as Anderson surprised his daughter in the middle of class. Caitlin dropped her class projects and embraced her father for a solid minute as tears ran down her face.
Caitlin says even when television cameras filled her classroom, she had no idea she was about to be reunited with her father, "I was really shocked! I didn't think he was coming home for another two months. So it was amazing!"
Sgt. Anderson says being away from his wife and girls was hardest part of his mission. "Just being away from them and knowing that you can't be there for special events and things they are doing. If something breaks, I'm not there to fix it," he said.
Now this husband and father is home just in time for the holidays. Anderson says his unit doesn't have any immediate plans to deploy again. So he will also get to enjoy the Christmas holiday with his family.
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